ATMs have become one of the most widely used conveniences for banking customers worldwide, providing quick access to cash in more locations. Unfortunately, with this ease of use, there is a statistically significant risk of theft and fraud at ATMs. Both financial institutions that place ATMs and the property owners that host them at their locations should take measures to protect these self-service machines and the people who use them from criminal activity.
One of the most effective steps is installing professional-grade video surveillance systems. Video cameras provide a visual deterrent to criminals thinking of stealing from or tampering with an ATM, while also providing recordings of anyone whose activity may raise suspicion. These recordings can be used as evidence if any fraudulent activity occurs and can serve as a powerful tool in apprehending criminals when needed. This post will discuss why ATM security matters, ATM fraud, and ways to effectively protect ATM machines and the people who use them.
Why ATM security is Important
Financial fraud has become increasingly sophisticated and a bigger threat to the banking sector. Even with a shift to online banking, cash is still a preferred option by many customers. That’s why ATMs represent an attractive target due to their quick cash access, extensive network, easy accessibility, and large amounts of personal data stored on them. A breach in a bank’s security system that allows fraudsters to withdraw money in ATMs can be tragic for the victims of that theft, and the bank will likely be held financially responsible.
Even simple ATM card theft cases where unauthorized individuals withdraw money from an account and banks fail to report to authorities so that the culprits can be brought to book can result in mistrust among their customers. To protect against these threats, banks must invest heavily in the latest security technologies, encryption methods, and physical security systems, such as video surveillance that monitors ATMs 24/7.
Understanding ATM Fraud
ATM fraud is a serious concern for everyday users. There are several types of ATM fraud, including skimming, cash trapping, and card trapping, which are the most common today. Here, we explore each type in detail and what makes ATMs vulnerable to criminal activity.
Common Types of ATM Fraud
- Skimming – Skimming is the most common form of ATM fraud. It involves placing a device on an ATM that reads the data off the card when it’s inserted into the machine. This stolen information can be used by criminals to make unauthorized purchases or create counterfeit cards.
- Cash Trapping – In cash trapping, criminals place small devices inside the ATM which block access to a customer’s money. By doing this, they hope to steal any cash customers attempt to withdraw from their accounts. Usually, after the customer has left, the criminal will return later to retrieve their “trap” and any ill-gotten gains it contains.
- Card Trapping – Card trapping is similar to cash trapping, but instead of blocking access to customers’ money, it blocks access to cards themselves. Criminals can use this tactic to force customers who don’t want their cards stolen back to retrieve them from the machine and accept their losses rather than file a police report.
What Makes ATMs Vulnerable?
ATMs are particularly vulnerable because, unlike banks and other financial institutions, there is usually less security around them due to their public location, making it easier for criminals to target users more easily without raising too much suspicion from passersby or security, if any are present at all. Additionally, many machines lack anti-skimming technology, making these devices easier targets for digital crimes such as identity theft and fraudulent purchases using stolen data from unsuspecting victims.
Video Surveillance as a Deterrent for ATM Fraud
Video surveillance is an effective way to protect ATMs from fraud. These systems provide security personnel with tangible evidence if ATM fraud occurs so that the perpetrators can be identified and brought to justice. Simply having these systems in place can deter potential criminals and ensure added visibility and protection for the premises where ATMs are located.
The Best Video Surveillance Systems For ATMs
The best video surveillance systems often include more advanced technologies such as HD or 4K Ultra HD resolution, color night vision, remote access via any device, facial recognition software, and intelligent analytics designed to detect suspicious behaviors around ATMs. The right system includes security cameras installed inside and outside the ATM area and depends on your location’s size, layout, and security needs.
While some ATMs have built-in cameras, some of them don’t. This, alone, isn’t enough as you need to cover more than just the ATM itself. You must strategically place cameras to monitor any area where a criminal can access the ATM without being seen and cover all approaches and exits from your location. Installing additional cameras outside your building or location is also essential, so you can see everything happening in parking lots or alleyways.
There are multiple considerations to make when installing security cameras for ATMs:
- Consider installing wide-angle viewing security cameras. A wider view of the area can help deter and prosecute crimes nearby, including damage to the ATM machine or the forced withdrawal of money.
- Install infrared night vision cameras outside the ATMs. A clear view into the street or parking lot, both day and night, can help identify the car of a would-be criminal or their license plate.
- If no camera is built-in, there should be another camera with a view of the screen keypad. It should be placed at a high angle not to be obstructed by a person standing in front of the machine, and the resolution needs to be high enough to see it in detail.
- Secure the camera’s power supply and data cables. Criminals can tamper with these cables to disable or damage the system, so ensure they are properly secured with cable ties, locks, or other protective measures.
- When choosing a video surveillance system, choose one that is reliable and provides clear images even in low light conditions. It’s also important to consider the storage needs of your video surveillance recordings.
- Ensure the system allows remote access to view live or recorded footage anytime and anywhere.
Best Practices In Video Surveillance
Once you have chosen a system, it’s important to ensure that it’s properly monitored by trained personnel familiar with how the video surveillance technology works. Additionally, all footage should be regularly reviewed and archived according to legal guidelines so that it can be used as evidence if needed. Finally, proper maintenance should be performed on any video surveillance equipment in order to ensure its efficacy over time.
Preventative Measures Beyond Video Surveillance
Apart from installing security cameras, other physical security measures are important in preventing illegal activities, such as ATM theft, fraud, and vandalism. One way to increase physical security is to ensure that ATMs, banks, and other vulnerable locations have appropriate lighting. This can make it harder for criminals to hide in shadows or darkness. In addition, having security personnel present in and around the area of ATMs can also be a deterrent to crime.
Security guards are important for guarding vulnerable locations and providing an immediate response in case of suspicious activity. They can patrol the area, monitor cameras, and provide assistance if necessary. Additionally, having them on-site increases the chances that criminals will be caught. Software and technology solutions can also play a big part in improving security.
Access control monitoring systems are also useful in getting detailed records on who has entered ATM locations and when they entered and exited. Banks should also consider investing in cyber security programs and be up-to-date with trends to protect against digital threats, such as hackers who could potentially steal information from compromised ATMs or cause data damage.
Can Video Surveillance Prevent All Types of ATM Fraud?
While video surveillance can often stop some types of ATM fraud such as card skimming and shoulder surfing, not all types of fraud can be prevented using this method. There will always be those who figure out ways around video cameras, such as hiding faces when using stolen ATM cards, and cybercriminals, who continue advancements in their attacks against ATMs and other banking systems worldwide.
In short, to enhance your efforts in safeguarding ATMs, you have to:
- Select a comprehensive video surveillance system that is able to provide detailed coverage of all areas.
- Choose the most appropriate types of cameras to capture the right angle and range to monitor the area around the ATM properly.
- Have enough lighting in close range of the camera to ensure images are clear and easily viewed by remote personnel.
- Ensure proper communication systems are in place for transmitting video footage and other alerts from the ATM security system back to an offsite monitoring center or other designated personnel.
- Ensure employees strictly follow all policies, procedures, and protocols for operating a video surveillance system at ATM locations.
Investing in video surveillance for ATMs is a decision that must be taken seriously and with great care. Without up-to-date security, these cash-handling points are particularly vulnerable to threats, leading to loss of funds and customer data. Staying informed on the latest features and technologies tailored to ATM security is crucial, as well as regular maintenance checks to ensure everything remains secure. Additionally, policies that ensure only authorized individuals have access to ATM machines are critical to helping avoid malicious acts and protect customer funds and data.